The Digixav Cryptography Conundrum – Week 1

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Remember me?

I’m back with a new angle of the tech world to interest you! The region of encryptions and ciphers is virtually unknown to most of the general public, but I am going to show you that cryptography is not just hacking people’s e-mails and making “unbreakable” codes. It’s actually quite a fun thing to be into once you have started. I’ll post a new puzzle each Tuesday and release the answer alongside the next puzzle every Tuesday.

Week 1

EJHJYBW – UIF IPNF PG BMM UIJOHT UFDI

Good luck, and have fun! Think you’ve got it? Let us know on Twitter or the Facebook page.

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Techslice: Some random thoughts about Siri

This website is shite
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Techslice is a column by Ali Wilson. Views expressed are not necessarily those of Digixav.

Siri is truly excellent voice recognition software that Apple introduced with the iPhone 4S and probably the new iPhone I spoke about last week. Siri is useful in many ways, as you can simply tell Siri to do what you want and it will do it almost instantly. It is also very entertaining, as I found out when trying it out on my friend’s iPhone 4S. If you ask something it cannot answer, Siri strives to give you a witty and entertaining response.

Siri is also easily accessible, with two extremely simple ways to activate it. The first is by pressing and holding the home button and waiting for the Siri toolbar to appear. The second is able to be turned off and on, and all you have to do is raise the phone to your ear, wait for the beep, and then say your command. This is very useful as it would be nonsensical if you had to go searching for Siri when you could just as easily have found what you were looking for in a shorter time without your voice.

There is only one minor flaw that I can see from my extensive tests, and that is that you must speak very clearly. If you don’t speak clearly enough, Siri has trouble recognising what you say and will normally answer with the wrong thing. This is time consuming and is a regular occurrence if you try and speak in a normal voice. This was proved by Henry and Xavier when they tested it in October.

Overall, I found Siri excellent and it is by far the best voice recognition programme that I have ever used. However, I don’t see why Apple has made Siri exclusive to the iPhone. As the owner of an iPad 2, I am strongly disappointed by this and am living in hope that soon, Apple will add Siri to the iPad. Not to finish on a bad note though – as I said above, Siri is excellent in almost every way and definitely top dog among mobile voice recognition platforms.

Techslice: The new iPhone rumour mill

iPhone 4S
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Techslice is a column by Ali Wilson. Views expressed are not necessarily those of Digixav.

In October 2011, Apple released their latest iPhone: the iPhone 4S. A lot of people were disappointed with the result that came 18 months after the 4 and were expecting something a bit more, well, new. By sight, the iPhone 4S is the same as its predecessor, the iPhone 4. The only major differences for a year of development were a dual-core A5 processor from the iPad 2, Siri and 3 additional megapixels in the camera.

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So with so few differences in the last upgrade, we are expecting great things from the iPhone 5/iPhone 4G/iPhone 6/new iPhone. There has been a concept design released and, as you can see, it does look very different to the previous model.

iPhone 5

Straight away, the first thing we notice is potential design overhaul of the new iPhone. Apple may reverted towards their old curved design from the original models. The shape is a lot less square and is much more rounded, a lot like the new Samsung Galaxy S III. The screen size may increase from the current 3.5″, with rumours circling that Apple may enlarge it to a whopping 4.8″, although Steve Jobs would turn in his grave. He was in staunch opposition to larger screens as he (rightly) thought that they made the iPhone resemble an Android phone.

The sixth installment to the iPhone series is said to be being released just over a year after its older brother. It was thought that if it was released earlier, then the new iPad’s sales would not be as high. Apple have therefore left a six-month gap between the iPad and the iPhone’s release. It is rumoured for early October 2012.

So, if you’re thinking of investing in an iPhone 4S, think again. It should be worth the wait of (potentially) just six months, because Apple could change everything. Again.

Techslice: Why Prezi is the new PowerPoint

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Techslice is a column by Ali Wilson. Views expressed are not necessarily those of Digixav.

Two weeks ago, I came across some new web-based presentation software. Prezi uses one simple factor that makes it simply fantastic – it uses 100% zoom transition. No flicking between multiple slides with petty little animations. No, as Prezi uses only one slide that you can fit just about anything on. It then zooms in and out of your different pieces of information to give you the ultimate presentation.

It is also completely free if you have an educational e-mail address to sign up with. This is normally your school e-mail address. So, instead of paying over £100 for Microsoft PowerPoint, you can use something better for free. And it has an iPad app. It really doesn’t take much time to learn to use either, as it is really very easy and is explained in simple detail on the websites excellent tutorials.

If you want to see an example of Prezi in action then visit this Prezi I threw together in about 2 minutes. If the link comes up with “No search results for…” then simply press the search button again.

All in all, I think that Prezi is a much better resource than PowerPoint, being generally better in any thinkable way, and it is therefore going to the top of the Techslice Top 10 of Internet Things – of one thing.

Techslice Top 10 of Internet Things

  1. Prezi
  2. Coming soon
  3. Coming soon
  4. Coming soon
  5. Coming soon
  6. Coming soon
  7. Coming soon
  8. Coming soon
  9. Coming soon
  10. Coming soon

Meet TheO Ball: a foam phone case that encourages physical activity

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Some people don’t like putting cases on their phones, but what if they were football shaped? Well, TheO Ball is! It is a football with one exception: you can put your phone in it! So instead of a case that just fits the phone, you can now buy a case that you can actually use to play games. It fits nearly all smartphones including iPhone, Android and Windows Phone devices. In short, if you have a smartphone, you will be able to use TheO.

TheO Ball is designed to hold your phone within its cushioned grasp, allowing you to liter...

It is designed and manufactured by Physical Apps, a company with the aim of making mobile gaming more physical and beneficial to health. TheO Ball has a slot that means your phone is safe and secure, whilst you can still see the screen. The ball itself is made completely of foam and so provides protection for both your smartphone and its surroundings.

TheO Ball

TheO Ball recently won the Popular Science Best Toy of Toy Fair 2012 award and I’m confident that it deserved its title. TheO Ball has some dedicated apps including games like Hot Potato, which is a game where you throw the ball to each other as quickly as possible. You lose if you wait too long before passing it on. I expect there will be many more fun and exciting games to play in the very near future, with the ball launching later this year for around $24.95 (£15.67), with each app costing from $1.99 to $4.99. Sign up for more information at TheO Ball website.

Alternatives to SMS services cause financial dent to networks

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Everyone jumps at the opportunity of not paying for something, even the smallest things. Text messaging is now included in that list. Apple’s iMessage, BlackBerry’s BBM and Facebook’s Messenger are all free messaging services and they are all very good. People use them as free alternatives to texting and they seem to becoming very popular, but too popular for the networks.

In 2011, mobile networks such as 3, O2, Orange, Vodafone and T-Mobile lost over $13.9bn (£8.8bn) because of these new free massaging apps. With so many alternatives to SMS services available, people are not texting as much as they used to and are instead looking to free apps. Network providers are missing out on their usually vast amounts of money they receive from people who pay for large SMS plans.

Network providers are desperately looking for ways to win back the public into SMS. In the short term, I expect, they will be looking to lower the prices of SMS services and crack down on data usage. Let’s see what 2012 brings…

Apple iPad 2 review

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Launched almost 1 year ago, Apple’s iPad 2 remains the biggest selling tablet of all time but, with its successor’s unveil coming in as little as 2 weeks, is it still a viable option in the tablet space or could it become the next budget smash hit?

Hardware

The main upgrade from the iPad to the iPad 2 is the dual-core A5 processor, clocked at around 1GHz, which definitely contributes greatly to the immense speed of the iPad. It also includes both a front and rear camera at 0.7 and 0.1 mega-pixels. You may look at these specs and sneer, but the back camera also is capable of up to 720p HD. Admittedly, using the iPad as a camera does make you look stupid, as Spike Lee demonstrated in front of Barack Obama. With a choice of either 16GB, 32GB or 64GB, you can choose the model that is right for you. The iPad 2′s 9.7″ IPS screen is once again fantastic and, while not quite full HD at 1024 x 768, still provides a fantastic image. The battery life of the iPad is surprising, as it is able to be used non-stop for a full 10 hours before charging is required. The iPad still uses the same 3.5mm headphone jack so you can use any old headphones. This is unlike Sony Ericsson, for instance, where the proprietary connector needed is often very hard to find and sometimes quite expensive. The three axis gyro and accelerometer make hand-held gaming entertaining. A great app to test this out is Sonic Riders, a game just like Mario Kart but with Sonic characters. You tilt the device to steer and it is much more enjoyable than moving an analog stick with one finger.

Design


As mentioned earlier, the iPad 2 features a 9.7″ IPS LCD screen which, in my opinion, looks stunning. It makes tablet gaming, surfing the web, and watching movies much more enjoyable than on my other devices. The size of the screen makes for excellent cinematic experience as it is nearly as big as some smaller netbooks. I love the aluminium body, only 8.8mm thick and weighing just over 600g. This makes it nice and simple to carry around and it fits snugly into your hand during use. It can simply slip inside a bag or a coat pocket and is easily accessible at all times.

Software

iOS 5 was released in October and comes with over 200 new features including iCloud, iMessage, Newstand, Reminders, Notification Centre and WiFi syncing, much of which has made its way across to OS X Mountain Lion. iCloud enables Apple device owners to store music, videos, apps and anything else to “the cloud”. This means that you can wirelessly add all your files to any of your iOS 5 devices such as Mac, Apple TV, iPod Touch and iPad 2. iMessage is now open to iPad and iPod Touch as well as just iPhone. It allows to to send unlimited text messages via Wi-Fi or 3G. You do not have to pay to do this which I think is an amazing bonus. Reminders allows you to store dates, meetings, shopping trips and much more. You can also set alarms to help you remember when and where to be. The new Notification Centre allows you to have all your notifications in one place to access instantly. Personally, I am glad that Apple have finally decided to do this as I find the small red circles on apps quite annoying as you would have to load up the app to find out what it was. Now, however, you can see all your notifications for all apps, all on one page. PC free registration now enables people who don’t even own a computer to own an iPad, part of Apple’s quest to kill the PC and make the tablet king. With PC Free you can simply set everything up on the device itself. This means you can have your brand new tablet up and running in less than 10 minutes.

There are over 140,000 apps available for the iPad now and the variety is massive. You can have everything from apps for fruit-slicing to apps for checking your football teams latest scores. Apple, of course, have made their own apps for the iPad including Apple’s own iWork suite for document editing, GarageBand, iBooks and iMovie. These all are very stunning on the iPad and are definitely worth getting if you ever get the chance. However, as well as Apple’s first-party apps, there are thousands more out there waiting to be downloaded. Some of my personal favourites include Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja, Stick Cricket, Temple Run, Sonic Riders and Doodle Jump. There are also all the social networking apps such as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and Skype. For primary school children, secondary school children and even students at university there is a wide selection of educational apps in many subjects. One of my favourite educational apps is The Night Sky. You simply point the device towards the sky and the advanced gyro spins the star map to show you the names of all the stars and planets in the sky. Great for learning about the constellations and planets. There are also apps to help you out in business, sports, news, travel and much, much more.

Accessories

Even though the iPad 2 is a stunning piece of equipment on its own, it doesn’t hurt to have a couple of accessories to help you out with making the most out of your tablet. The iPad 2 smart cover is a quite interesting piece of equipment. When you snap it over the screen, it not only fits snugly and perfectly, but it automatically put the iPad into sleep mode. The cover can also be folded into a stand so you can sit back and watch a movie or even if you just want that extra bit of elevation. The Smart Cover comes in many different colours and you get the choice between polyurethane and leather, but you will, however, have to pay an extra £24 for the premium leather, which will fade over time. Another great accessory is the camera connection kit. It includes two small dongles that plug into the main iPad port. One has a SD card slot for instant download capability should the internal storage not be sufficient, whereas the other has a USB 2.0 port for camera cables to be plugged directly into the iPad.

Conclusion

Even 1 year on, the iPad 2 is still the best tablet on the market. With so much more tablet specific software than other platforms, a fantastic aluminium design and a lower price than a number of its competitors, there is no real reason not to choose anything over it at the moment, but be wary of the iPad 3 launch that lurks just around the corner.